Sunday, October 07, 2007

Attractiveness and sexual behavior

Here's an interesting paper by some Australian researchers. I wouldn't take all of their conclusions too seriously. For example, testosterone levels would impact behavior as well as body dimorphism, so the correlation found between sexual success and dimorphism (e.g., masculine body type in males) might signal something about the behavior of the males as opposed to reaction on the part of women. What is interesting is that advantaged (attractive) males tend to use their advantage towards short term relationships, whereas attractive females pursue long term relationships. See earlier related post.

Attractiveness and sexual behavior: Does attractiveness enhance mating success?

4. Discussion

Attractive men and women were more successful in implementing their preferred mating strategies according to parental investment theory. Men with attractive faces and bodies enjoyed significantly more short-term mating success than their peers, with no cost in their long-term mating success, whereas women with attractive faces had more long-term mating success than their peers. Attractive men (bodies) and women (faces) also became sexually active earlier than their peers, which would enhance reproductive success for both sexes in the absence of contraception. These results support the assumption underlying much current research on attractiveness, that attractive traits are important in mate choice and may be sexually selected.

Attractiveness enhanced mating success for both men and women, suggesting that both sexes choose partners with attractive traits. This finding challenges claims that male market value is principally determined by earning potential and relationship commitment (e.g., Pawloskwi & Dunbar, 1999). Attractiveness of the face and body contributed independently to male mating success because they were uncorrelated, but both affected success. Only facial attractiveness contributed to female mating success, which is surprising if attractive female bodies advertise fertility, as widely believed (e.g., Singh, 1993). However, males may have been able to assess this information from the face because face and body attractiveness were correlated in females (see also Thornhill & Grammer, 1999). It is not clear why the face and body should signal similar information in females but not in males. Future research is needed to determine the relative contributions of face and body attractiveness to overall attractiveness in each sex.

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